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Ports & Destinations

International Cruise & Ferry Review

160

CARIBBEAN: INTERVIEW

With a busy schedule of projects in the

pipeline, the cruise industry in Jamaica

is enjoying a purple patch. Sean Dudley

catches up with William Tatham of the

Port Authority of Jamaica to find out more

Continuing the

positive trends

record number of Cruise

passenger visited the island

of Jamaica in 2014, and

with another record year

project in 2015, the positive

trends are continuing.

Numbers peaked at 1.4 million visitors

last year, and according to William Tatham

of the Port Authority of Jamaica, that

number could reach 1.5 million this year.

The good feeling has been furthered by the

Port Authority of Jamaica becoming a member

of the Cruise Lines International Association

(CLIA), the official trade organisation of the

cruise industry of North America.

“CLIA has become a global entity now, and

this presents a great opportunity,” says Tatham.

“Our thinking is that an opportunity lies in

being able to work with CLIA and being able to

reach travel agents in all the major markets.”

With more passengers to serve than ever

before and opportunities for further growth

on the horizon, what steps are being taken

by the Port Authority of Jamaica to ensure

the island progresses as a cruise destination?

Tatham says the authority is currently

focused on improvement projects at three

major destinations: Ocho Rios, Falmouth

and Montego Bay.

At Ocho Rios, the first stage of a three-part

project is now complete, which saw upgrades to

the main cruise terminal and the introduction

of a walking promenade into the town. The

second phase will get underway in September

2015 and should be completed by March 2016.

“The second phase is an upgrade and

repairs programme for Main Street in Ocho

Rios,” Tatham says. “This will see a partial

pedestrianisation of Main Street. We faced

some flooding issues that had to be addressed

ahead of this part of the project, but the

pedestrianisation will encourage visitors to

walk in and around the town in what will be

a much cleaner and nicer environment.”

Another major project at Ocho Rios is a

proposed second multipurpose pier.

“We’ve done the conceptuals, we’ve done

the engineering, and we are now looking to

get designs done,” confirms Tatham. “We

anticipate it’s going to take about four months

before construction begins in the fall and we’re

looking at completion before the end of 2016.”

An upgrade project is also underway

at Falmouth, with improvements already

having been made to the Harbour Lane area

of the town, and work in three more areas –

specifically Falmouth Street, Market Street

and Tharpe Street – is set to be completed

by March 2016.

At Montego Bay, plans go a step further.

“We have been pursuing a strategy which

really seems to be coming together, and that

is to start homeporting out of Montego Bay,”

Tatham reveals. “We’ve always done a bit of

homeporting in Jamaica, but it’s a business we

felt Montego Bay held a lot of potential for.”

The Thomson Dream began homeporting

at Montego Bay for the 2014-2015 winter

season, and is one of three ships now

homeporting at the port on the island’s

northern coast – the other two being the

Celestyal Crystal and the AIDAbella.

Following discussions with existing

homeport operators in Jamaica, as well as

newly interested parties, 2015-2016 looks

set to be Jamaica’s biggest homeport season,

with six ships from five different companies

now turning around on the island.

“We’ll be doing the turnaround

operations for AIDA, one for Thomson, one

for Celestyal and a partial turnaround of

MSC Opera,” Tatham says.

One major reason for optimism in the

Caribbean cruise industry at the moment

is what Tatham refers to as the ‘Cuba

phenomenon’. Tatham believes the building

momentum in Cuba’s cruise industry is

a distinct opportunity for Jamaica, and

Montego Bay’s northerly location – on

the coastline closest to Cuba – makes it a

natural location for development.

“Celestyal Cruises and MSC have both

announced they’ll be running cruises to Cuba,